Parliamentary panel asks MEA to prepare database of Indians abroad

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New Delhi: While noting that the political crisis in Afghanistan and Ukraine conflict is a gross reminder about the implications on safety and security of Indian nationals in a volatile situation, a parliamentary panel has called upon the Ministry of External Affairs to prepare a database of all Indians abroad and also formulate a standard operating procedure for emergency situations.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs in its report on the demands for grants of the ministry for 2022-23 also raised concern over the persistent delay in the construction of the South Asian University campus. The panel, headed by BJP member PP Chaudhary, urged the government to suitably enhance the budgetary allocation of the ministry in keeping with its expanding mandate.

The report said that in view of the number and spread of overseas Indians, there is a high possibility of them getting stranded in a crisis situation. “The recent political crisis in Afghanistan and conflict in Ukraine is a gross reminder about the implications on safety and security of Indian nationals in such a volatile situation. In the recent past, the Ministry has played a commendable role in Afghanistan and Ukraine. Recognizing the significance of evacuation preparedness, the committee has desired that a database of Indian nationals abroad may be prepared and updated on a regular basis for emergency situations,” it said.

“Furthermore, a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for evacuation of Indian nationals stranded in exigencies must also be chalked out and the same may be made available at all Indian Missions/Posts abroad,” the report added.

The committee observed that MEA’s budgetary allocation for FY 2022-23 is Rs. 17, 250 crore which is 4.98 per cent less than BE 2021-22 allocation and 7.81 per cent more than RE 2021-22 allocation. “Despite an increase in the overall budget of the Government of India, the allocation made to MEA in percentage terms has witnessed a downward turn during the last four years and during 2022-23 it is only 0.44 per cent. Keeping in mind India’s rising global profile, engagement and footprint, the allocations made to MEA are evidently insufficient,” the committee said.

It said that with the decline in COVID-19 cases, regular activities of the Ministry will resume and more funds will be needed to pace up the delayed projects and exchanges. “The committee recommended that the allocations made to MEA should be increased substantially and be brought at least at the level of one per cent of Government of India’s overall Budget every year,” the report said. (ANI)

first published:March 24, 2022, 12:37 a.m.

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